THE Senate yesterday asked former Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman Attahiru Jega to name members of the National Assembly involved in corruption practices.
Senate President Bukola Saraki threw the challenge to former INEC boss, following a Point of Order raised by Senator Isah Hamman Misau on the allegation of corrupt practices levelled against National Assembly members by Jega.
Jega was reported to have said National Assembly committee chairmen asked for gratification from heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) to carry out their constitutional duties in the name of so-called over sight functions.
Misau said: “My point of order is based on the lecture made during the Democracy Day; the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was in attendance.
“During the lecture, the guest lecturer, who is an elder statesman and the former chairman of INEC, Prof. Attahiru Jega, made a statement, which I feel I have to bring it to this floor.
“He made mention that some committee chairmen of the National Assembly are notorious for demanding or collecting bribes, which I feel is unfortunate.
“Somebody that is well-respected to come and make statement that he was told by some executive is really unfortunate.
“I feel that the statement is very weighty because that programme was televised live.
“The thing they need to understand is that these live programmes are watched around the world and at the time he made that statement, I am a member of ECOWAS parliament and I after the lecture, I went to the parliament, most of the parliamentarians, asked me if what the Professor said is true or not?
“I found it difficult to explain to them and I feel that not only Prof. Jega, but anybody that would make statements concerning the credibility of this Senate and the chairmen, I think you should be bold enough to mention the committee chairmen, especially when it is about fighting corruption in Nigeria.
“If we really want to fight corruption and want to help the government, he would not be making such statements without mentioning the committee chairmen and those who gave him that sort of information.
“I felt embarrassed. We need the professor to throw more light on what he said.”
Saraki said he was at the event, where the allegation was made.
He added that House of Representatives Speaker Yakubu Dogara was also at the event where Jega made the allegation.
He said they were “highly embarrassed” by the sweeping allegation, which failed to name names.
He noted that the matter should be forgotten, if Jega failed to name those involved.
Saraki said: “I was at the programme, myself and the Speaker and we were highly embarrassed by that kind of comment. All of us are committed to the fight against corruption.
“But I believe it doesn’t help the fight against corruption. It is a slight to the integrity of some of us, where such a statement is made.
“If he has those kinds of evidence, he should bring them forward. “If he can’t come out and name names, then he should not make such branding statement.
“Going forward to all distinguished and respected Nigerians, on issues that have to do with the institutions and a parliament, if there are cases like this, we have always said that we are not going to cover up for anybody and future accusations. They should name them and see what the institution would do in trying to ensure that the necessary sanctions are taken.”